Image Credit: capitol.tn.gov
The Tennessee Conservative [By Jason Vaughn] –
Yesterday, February 23rd, the House Banking and Consumer Affairs Subcommittee kicked the can down the road to a summer study for an E-verify bill that would make it harder, if not impossible, for illegal immigrants to get work in Tennessee.
House Bill 1636, sponsored by Representative Bruce Griffey (R-Paris-District 75), in summary, requires certain employers to utilize an e-verification program in hiring; removes immunity for an employer’s reliance on other forms of verification; makes other related changes.
Griffey’s bill would expand employers subject to the requirements of the Tennessee Lawful Employment Act to include public contractors and public subcontractors with at least six employees (excluding farmers).
The bill would require all employers to use the E-Verify program to verify the work eligibility of an employee prior to the employee providing labor or services and maintain documentation of any results generated by E-Verify. Presently, only private employers with 50 or more employers are required to enroll in E-Verify.
Under Griffey’s bill, governmental entities, public contractors, and public subcontractors would be prohibited from entering into contracts with one another unless each party used the E-Verify program.
Speaking about his bill before the Subcommittee, Griffey said, “E-Verify is a highly effective way to combat illegal immigration because it works to eliminate the illegal jobs magnets. Several studies have shown that the number of recent immigrants fell by almost 40% when a state had a universal E-verify law in effect. Illegal immigration fell as much as 50% in a single year in states with mandatory E-verify laws. Mandatory E-verify not only reduces illegal immigration but also encourages illegal workers to return home. E-verify protects American workers by ensuring employers only hire individuals who are authorized to work in the United States.”
See our in-depth article about Griffey’s bill HERE.
Chairman Dennis Powers (R-Jacksboro-District 36) and committee member Clark Boyd (R-Lebanon-District 46) offered support for the bill, however, Boyd brought up another E-verify bill that he is sponsoring that also is co-sponsored by Griffey.
House Bill 1853 (HB1853) , sponsored by Representative Clark Boyd, in summary, lowers the threshold for employers having to verify work authorization status of new hires through E-Verify from those with 50 or more employees to those with 25 or more employees; requires the office of employment verification assistance to offer, at no charge, E-Verify sign ups and work authorization status checks for employers with less than 50 employees; protects employers acting upon false results generated by E-Verify; prohibits certain wrongful or retaliatory discharge or discrimination actions; prohibits certain rehires.
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Of particular interest, Boyd’s bill states that “A person shall not knowingly employ, rehire, recruit, or refer for a fee for employment an illegal alien.”
Boyd stated that his bill was passed in subcommittee on February 22nd. Records show that HB1853 was recommended for passage by both the Banking and Consumer Affairs subcommittee and the Commerce committee.
Boyd said, “I think it’s got some legs and it’s well on its way to becoming law. I think that one is going to get us where we need to go. I think we probably don’t need to pass anything that undoes what you and I are working on with that other piece of legislation. I think we need to give it some space and see where it goes.”
With that, Boyd addressed Chairman Powers and made a motion to send Griffey’s bill to summer study. The motion was seconded, had no objections and passed.
Of the two bills, Griffey’s bill has the most “teeth” in that it lowers the threshold for businesses to be required to use E-verify to six or more employees and prescribes disciplinary action and fines for businesses/individuals that are found to be in violation.
In contrast, Boyd’s bill lowers the threshold for businesses to be required to use E-verify to 25 or more employees, prescribes no disciplinary action and fines for businesses/individuals that are found to be in violation and would not ask that employers use the E-verify system to verify the work authorization status of employees unless they are hired on or after January 1st, 2023.
About the Author: Jason Vaughn, Media Coordinator for The Tennessee Conservative ~ Jason previously worked for a legacy publishing company based in Crossville, TN in a variety of roles through his career. Most recently, he served as Deputy Director for their flagship publication. Prior, he was a freelance journalist writing articles that appeared in the Herald Citizen, the Crossville Chronicle and The Oracle among others. He graduated from Tennessee Technological University with a Bachelor’s in English-Journalism, with minors in Broadcast Journalism and History. Contact Jason at news@TennesseeConservativeNews.com